Motorcycle on the road

Motorcycle ownership rose during the pandemic, and traffic on our roads continues to climb. This means more motorcyclists, potentially with less experience are now riding on busier roads. 

What does this mean for you? Whether you’re behind a steering wheel or a pair of handlebars, it means being extra careful on the road. Motorcycles are vehicles like any other on the road, and their riders are subject to the same road rules as everyone else. 

But motorcyclists are more vulnerable than other road users: while only 4.5% of vehicles registered in Australia are motorcycles,nearly 25% of road deaths involve motorcyclists.

Whether you’re a motorist or a motorcyclist, you can play a role in helping keep roads safer for everyone, including yourself.

Sharing the road with motorcyclists

  • Maintain a safe distance from motorcycles on the road ahead.
    How far is safe? Give yourself three seconds to react to anything unexpected. Do this by picking a spot on the road ahead. Start counting when the motorcyclist in front reaches this spot. If you reach the same spot in three seconds or more, you’re good. Make it four or five seconds if it’s raining or visibility is low.
  • Know and check your blind spots
    Blind spots are places around your vehicle you can’t see when driving with your eyes on the road in front. Use your mirrors and do shoulder-checks before changing lanes or turning. And when you check, pay attention – are you really looking or going through the motions? “I looked and I didn’t see them” are not words you want to ever have to say.
  • When overtaking, give motorcyclists more space than you think
    Hard braking is an advanced skill for all road users, but for motorcyclists it is especially risky, and getting it wrong could mean a fall. Don’t assume everyone on the road has the same skills as you: give bikes space, use your indicators and allow time for them to make room for you if needed.
  • Check for motorcycles at intersections
    At intersections, motorcyclists can be closer than they seem. Also, drive predictably, in line with road rules, road markings and signage. Motorcyclists will likely anticipate your movements based on what’s expected – and may not be able to adjust their trajectory in time if you, for example, turn from the wrong lane.

Sharing the road with motorists

  • Maintain a safe distance from vehicles travelling ahead of you
    Creating a buffer zone around your motorcycle will make it easier and safer to manoeuvre in case of an emergency. Use the three-second rule described above and give yourself more room when it’s raining or conditions are otherwise challenging.
  • Gear up every time
    You might be the safest rider in town, or you might be nipping out to the shops quickly – but no one else on the road knows this. Every ride you take, there’s no guarantee no one else will make a mistake. So gear up and protect yourself. Check how safe your gear is.
  • Adjust speed according to road conditions and never exceed posted speed limits
    You might be an excellent rider, but there’s no guarantees everyone else on the road is as skilled as you, and as capable of reacting if something goes wrong. Don’t chance it: speeding puts you and others at higher risk. And if it’s wet or windy or otherwise, slow down a bit: others might skid, and you could as well.

Road safety is a shared responsibility and all road users contribute to the safety of our roads. Even if you’re a super-experienced driver or rider, other people on the road are not. So however safe you feel, taking risks is always risky – for yourself and others. 

More information:


Australian Bureau of Statistics (2021), Table 1, Motor Vehicle Census, Aust. (2021)
2 Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE), Table 4.1, Road Deaths Australia (2023)

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